American Lung Association Statement on E-Cigarettes
Statement of Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association
(August 25, 2014) - Washington D.C.
The American Lung Association is very concerned about the potential health consequences of electronic cigarettes, as well as the unproven claims that they can be used to help smokers quit. There is presently no government oversight of these products and absent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation, there is no way for the public health, medical community or consumers to know what chemicals are contained in e-cigarettes or what the short and long term health implications might be. In extensive comments filed with the FDA in early August, the American Lung Association called on the Obama Administration to finalize its regulation to regulate e-cigarettes by the end of 2014.
The FDA has not approved any e-cigarette as a safe or effective method to help smokers quit. When smokers are ready to quit, they should call 1-800-QUIT NOW or talk with their doctors about using one of the seven FDA-approved medications proven to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit.
A study has estimated that there are almost 500 different e-cigarette brands today, with more than 7700 different flavors. A 2014 study showed wide ranging nicotine levels in e-cigarettes and substantial variability between listed and actual nicotine levels in products. In 2009, FDA conducted initial lab tests and found detectable levels of toxic cancer-causing chemicals, including an ingredient used in anti-freeze, in two leading brands of e-cigarettes and 18 various cartridges. That is why it is so urgent for FDA to begin its regulatory oversight of e-cigarettes, which would include ingredient disclosure by e-cigarette manufacturers to FDA.
Also unknown is what the potential harm may be to people exposed to secondhand emissions from e-cigarettes. Two initial studies have found formaldehyde, benzene and tobacco-specific nitrosamines (a carcinogen) coming from those secondhand emissions. Other studies have shown that chemicals exhaled by users also contain formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and other potential irritants. While there is a great deal more to learn about these products, it is clear that there is much to be concerned about, especially in the absence of FDA oversight.